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Acts 20:17-21:14
Skip Heitzig

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Acts 20 (NKJV™)
17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.
18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,
19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;
20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house,
21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
22 "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23 "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
25 "And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.
26 "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.
27 "For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
31 "Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.
32 "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
33 "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.
34 "Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.
35 "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him,
38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Acts 21 (NKJV™)
1 Now it came to pass, that when we had departed from them and set sail, running a straight course we came to Cos, the following day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.
2 And finding a ship sailing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail.
3 When we had sighted Cyprus, we passed it on the left, sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre; for there the ship was to unload her cargo.
4 And finding disciples, we stayed there seven days. They told Paul through the Spirit not to go up to Jerusalem.
5 When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.
6 When we had taken our leave of one another, we boarded the ship, and they returned home.
7 And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day.
8 On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
10 And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
11 When he had come to us, he took Paul's belt, bound his own hands and feet, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'"
12 Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The will of the Lord be done."

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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44 Acts - 2017

In this message, we see Paul on his third and final missionary journey. He knew he needed to speak to the elders of the church of Ephesus but was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for Pentecost, so he and the elders met in nearby Miletus. In his parting words to the elders, Paul gave great insight into the attributes of effective ministry. Despite multiple trustworthy warnings about impending hardship in Jerusalem, Paul graciously received the warnings as preparation and proceeded to Jerusalem.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, His followers were tasked with spreading the good news of salvation "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). The book of Acts details the early church's rapid growth as they received the Holy Spirit and carried out the Great Commission to a world that was hungry for it. In this verse-by-verse study, Skip Heitzig teaches how we can be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ in the world today, and we learn how God continues His work through the Spirit-empowered church.

Detailed Notes

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  1. Introduction
    1. The Holy Spirit is mentioned forty-two times in Acts
      1. The book could be called The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles
      2. It may appear that Paul was fighting the Spirit's leading
    2. Paul used three terms interchangeably to address church leaders
      1. Presbuteros: Greek for elder, from the Jewish community
      2. Episkopos: Greek for overseer, from the Greek community
      3. Poimén: Greek for shepherd, from the rural community
    3. This was the only message in Acts to a Christian audience
    4. Other messages were to unbelieving Jews or Gentiles, or used as defenses in trials
  2. Acts 20:17-31 | Paul reveals attributes of effective ministry to church leaders
    1. An open life (see v. 18)
      1. Paul stayed with them for three years
      2. He taught them, took meals with them, lived life among them
      3. They heard his messages and watched him live life
    2. Humility (see v. 19)
      1. Paul was a servant
      2. Some pastors did (and still do) desire the limelight (see 3 John 1:9)
    3. Hardships (see v. 19)
      1. Paul faced "tears and trials"
      2. Hardships equip you for ministry, hone you, and give you more value
    4. Balance (see vv. 20-21)
      1. Paul both proclaimed (preached) and taught (instructed); people need to be preached to and also taught how to
      2. He taught publicly (large groups) and from house to house (small groups)
      3. He spoke to Jews (sacred) and Greeks (secular)
      4. He proclaimed repentance and faith
    5. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit (see vv. 22-23)
      1. Some conclude Paul was fighting the Holy Spirit, but Paul acknowledged that his hardships furthered the gospel (see Philippians 1:12)
      2. "Paul purposed in the Spirit…to go to Jerusalem" (Acts 19:21)
      3. Paul believed God wanted him to go to Jerusalem and the Holy Spirit warned him of coming suffering in order to prepare him; Paul never confused a prediction with a prohibition
      4. When you step into the Christian life, you relinquish all control
    6. Determination (see v. 24)
      1. Paul stepped boldly into the future
      2. Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem to take the offering from Macedonian churches, and because he loved them
      3. Paul had an incredible love for Israel and the Jewish people (see Romans 9:1-3; 10:1)
      4. Moses had a similar heart for his people (see Exodus 34:15-32)
      5. Paul taught the "whole counsel of God" (v. 27)
    7. Protection (see vv. 28-31)
      1. Paul warned the shepherds and sheep about wolves
      2. Paul never ceased to warn them night and day
      3. "Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4)
      4. Shepherds might have to warn against false prophets
      5. Jesus said, "I am the door" (John 10:9), meaning He is the protector of His sheep
  3. Acts 20:32-21:14 | Paul departs for Jerusalem
    1. Paul commended the Ephesian church leaders to the Lord; they all wept
    2. Although Paul predicted the wolves would come, he trusted the Lord to care for the sheep in Ephesus
    3. Paul sailed toward Jerusalem
      1. Christians in Tyre warned Paul "through the Spirit" (v. 4) not to go to Jerusalem; Paul continued onward
      2. Clergymen in Judea warned Paul of hardship in Jerusalem
      3. Even Paul's traveling companions pleaded with Paul not to go to Jerusalem
      4. Paul said he was prepared to go
  4. Closing
    1. Prediction to Paul did not mean prohibition
    2. Paul believed the multiple warnings from the Holy Spirit; however, he took it as preparation for what lie ahead
Figures referenced: Robert William Dale, Martin Luther, Dwight L. Moody

Greek words: episkopos, poimén, presbuteros

Cross references: Exodus 34:15-32; Psalm 23:4; John 10:9; Acts 19:21; Romans 9:1-3; 10:1; Philippians 1:12; 3 John 1:9

Additional Messages in this Series

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8/16/2017
completed
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Acts 1
Acts 1
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After Jesus rose from the grave, He spent forty days with His disciples before ascending into heaven. During this time, He tasked them with spreading the gospel to the ends of the world. In this message, we learn about the very beginnings of the early church.
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8/23/2017
completed
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Acts 2:1-31
Acts 2:1-31
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8/30/2017
completed
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Acts 2:32-3:26
Acts 2:32-3:26
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9/13/2017
completed
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Acts 4:1-24
Acts 4:1-24
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9/27/2017
completed
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Acts 4:23-5:42
Acts 4:23-5:42
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10/4/2017
completed
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Acts 6
Acts 6
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10/18/2017
completed
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Acts 7
Acts 7
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11/1/2017
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Acts 8
Acts 8
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11/29/2017
completed
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Acts 9:1-23
Acts 9:1-23
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12/27/2017
completed
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Acts 9:20-43
Acts 9:20-43
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Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul the apostle) had an amazing impact on the early church. But what many fail to realize is that it didn't happen overnight. In this message, we learn what Saul did right after his conversion, and we see how God prepared him for ministry.
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1/3/2018
completed
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Acts 10
Acts 10
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Many in the early church had a hard time believing God's grace extended to the Gentiles. In this message, we learn how God used a Roman centurion to reveal to Peter that no one is beyond the reach of God and there is no place for bigotry among His people.
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1/10/2018
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Acts 11
Acts 11
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We all need some encouragement from time to time as we grow in our walk with the Lord. Barnabas had the gift of encouraging those around him. In this message, we see how he encouraged Saul, who would later become Paul the apostle, to begin in his ministry.
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1/17/2018
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Acts 12
Acts 12
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The Herodian dynasty was filled with proud, dysfunctional, evil kings. Herod Agrippa I persecuted the early church, killing James and imprisoning Peter. In this message, we learn about the power of prayer and see how God's sovereignty triumphs over the pride of man.
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1/24/2018
completed
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Acts 13:1-41
Acts 13:1-41
Skip Heitzig
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God is a missionary God. Even back in the Old Testament, He often sent people out to do various things. Much of the book of Acts details how members of the early church were sent out to spread the gospel. In this message, we learn how Paul and his team set out on their first missionary journey.
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1/31/2018
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Acts 13:16-14:28
Acts 13:16-14:28
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Message Summary
Paul and Barnabas had a specific format to their missionary work: they preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. In this message, we examine Paul's first recorded sermon and the response it received. We learn the importance of being anchored in Scripture and centered on God's promises when sharing the gospel with others.
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2/7/2018
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Acts 15
Acts 15
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All people disagree with one another at some point--even Christians. In the early church, a disagreement arose concerning whether the Gentile believers should be required to adhere to the Law of Moses. In this message, we learn how the early church found a biblical solution to this divisive subject.
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3/7/2018
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Acts 15:36-16:30
Acts 15:36-16:30
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3/14/2018
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Acts 16:25-17:34
Acts 16:25-17:34
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3/21/2018
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Acts 18:1-11
Acts 18:1-11
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4/18/2018
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Acts 18:11-28
Acts 18:11-28
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The apostle Paul continued traveling through Greece into Corinth, where he stayed eighteen months or so—the longest stay of all his missionary journeys up to that point. Though it was difficult and Paul was discouraged, the Lord told Paul not to be silent, but to speak in order that many would be saved. God's plan for spreading the gospel forged ahead.
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4/25/2018
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Acts 18:23-19:22
Acts 18:23-19:22
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Message Summary
At the end of Paul's second missionary journey, he traveled to Ephesus but could not stay, as he was headed to Jerusalem. But he promised to return to the city, which he did in his third missionary journey. Paul's three-year stay in Ephesus was fruitful: the entirety of Asia Minor heard the gospel, and his vision for spreading the gospel grew to include Jerusalem, Rome, and even Spain.
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5/2/2018
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Acts 19:23-20:16
Acts 19:23-20:16
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5/16/2018
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Acts 21:14-22:30
Acts
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There are 23 additional messages in this series.